Newly-elected IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Durban - The IFP has its sights firmly set on the 2021 local government elections with plans to build on the growth of the last national elections.

Newly-elected IFP president Velenkosini Hlabisa used his maiden speech to stamp his authority against unruly behaviour that might divide the party and widen factionalism ahead of coming elections.

Hlabisa told about 4000-strong party delegates of the national conference held in Ulundi, Zululand: “Comrades, any slogan that is divisive will not build the IFP. There are songs which are divisive in nature. Any song you sing but you know is divisive... it will never build the IFP,” he said.

Hlabisa said IFP members had to embrace the spirit of unity and solidarity “that was demonstrated in this conference”. “Let us take this spirit and run with it. Anyone who raises a slogan or a song that turns to divide us, let us stop that person immediately.”

Hlabisa said the party had to be unified before the local government elections in two years’ time and the 2024 general elections. Under his leadership, he said, the party would position itself as the voice of social cohesion and national unity.

“We are the voice of the most vulnerable, and of those who are not heard in the discordant discourse of politics. We must restore trust between people and politics. This means we must be firmly rooted among the people anew, for the people are our masters and we are their servants.”

In a bid to promote the IFP nationally, Hlabisa said he would traverse the country, visiting cities, townships and villages “to hear the forgotten voices and to unearth the wealth of wisdom of our people”.

“Our people know what needs to be done; we are just unfortunate to be governed by those that do not listen.” Newly-elected secretary-general Siphosethu Ngcobo also called on the party structures to prepare themselves to win elections.

He said the national, provincial and regional structure should each meet at least twice a month to discuss election strategy.

“The IFP (should) build up its leadership development institute and add more content in its leadership courses in order to deal with the challenges that lie ahead for the party. “The IFP (should) reinstate its youth camps, which will arm membership with skills and the ability to face challenges confronting the IFP,” he said.

Political Bureau